All posts by Richard

Continental Centurions Race 2018

My goal for the 2018 Continental Centurions Race in Schiedam, Holland, was to ‘officially’ break the NZ 24 hour record which I had unofficially beaten in the same race two years ago.

The Continental Centurion Race is a 100 mile race with a 24 hour option, but they don’t measure partially completed laps like most 24 hour races do, and in 2016 I had walked 182.598 kilometres (50 meters short of the official NZ record) when I completed my penultimate lap after 23 hours 57 minutes and 1 second.  My total distance was recorded as 183.587km in 24 hours 5 minutes and 18 seconds, giving me an estimated 24 hour split of 182.950km, but this didn’t count for record purposes, and it had bugged me ever since.

When I originally planned out my 2018 year the Continental Centurions Race wasn’t on my list as I had intended racing in a 6 day event in Hungary during the first week of May, but injury over the winter meant that I was unable to do enough training to feel confident of a good 6 day result and instead I replaced the 6 day race with two 24 hour events – the French 24 hour championships in Dijon in April (where I finished 5th with 171.7km in the heat) and the Continental Centurions Race.

And unlike most of my recent races where I have started slowly, sitting in the back third of the field early on, and then worked my way through the field as the race went on, I decided that I would start aggressively this time, and aim to either smash both the 100 mile and 24 hour records or die trying (metaphorically speaking of course).  My goal for the race if the conditions were good was to complete the 100 miles in under 20 hours (previous best was 20:58:27 from the same race in 2016) and to complete over 190km in the 24 hours.  This race was to be my 20th walk of 100 miles or more and I thought walking 100 miles in under 20 hours would be a great achievement to mark the milestone.

Pre-race:

Not wanting to use too much of my annual leave, I decided I would work on the Friday before travelling to Schiedam on the Friday evening.  That plan went reasonably well except for the fact that the restaurant at the hotel had closed by the time I arrived a little after 10pm.  I had eaten some of my ‘race food’ during the trip over (bus from work to airport, flight to Amsterdam, train to Schiedam) and had also bought some Burger King chips at Schiphol Airport while waiting for my train, so I was only intending to have a light meal anyway.  But I would have preferred to top up my calories before going to bed.

I slept reasonably well, about 8 hours, and after waking on the Saturday morning I walked in to town to buy more race food and some breakfast.  Unfortunately there wasn’t a McDonalds within walking distance so I settled for 6 ham filled croissants (1,500+ calories) which I ate over a period of a few hours while walking down to the race village and preparing for the 12 noon start.

Unlike my last race in Dijon where I was the only English speaking competitor, there was a large contingent of athletes from England and also the Isle of Man so plenty of people to talk to.  The international competitors were assigned a large tent where we would be able to prepare for the race, and leave our bags, etc, but it turned out that we couldn’t be fed from within that tent so Judith (the wife of one of the English competitors) found another tent to base herself in, and the Isle of Man supporters relocated to the far end of the race village.  Judith had kindly volunteered to feed and water me during the race.

It was a good catching up with old friends, most of which I hadn’t seen since the 2016 race or the 2017 UK Centurions Race in which I had done the 50 miler, and it wasn’t too long before we were asked to make our way down the path and around the corner to the start of the race.

The race:

After listening to a few speeches, the race started at exactly 12 noon.  There were 60 starters in the 100 mile/24 hour event and 10 in the 50km walk starting at the same time (but with a slightly different start point), and later in the day another 50 competitors would join us for either the 50 mile or 100km races.

As planned, I started faster than I had two years ago, and faster than I had in probably all of my previous 24 hour races.  In 2016 I had covered the first lap (3.494km) in 26:34 and was in 37th place at the end of the first lap.  This year I had intended to start with a  26 minute lap (8km/hour average speed) and then settle in with 29 minutes per 3.936km lap (2016 average lap in the early stages was a shade over 30 minutes) but I was surprised when I saw the lap clock at the end of my first lap showing 25:05!  I was in 8th place and feeling comfortable, the conditions were great – overcast and around 10 degrees – and I thought I may as well continue at this pace and see what happens.

The next few laps passed by in 28:15, 28:36, 29:02, 28:36, and 28:41.  I was feeling good and when Franz Leijtens and Adam Killip (Holland and Isle of Man) caught me we enjoyed some conversation while we walked.

I completed my 7th lap in 28:57 but was starting to suffer a little from the early speed and let Adam walk off into the distance. Franz had already dropped a little bit behind me and I started to struggle.  We were less than 3 ½ hours in to a 24 hour race and I was already struggling.  Maybe I shouldn’t have started so fast.  I was starting to get negative thoughts in my head already.  Negative thoughts can kill a good race and I tried to push them out by focusing on the podcasts I was listening to while I walked.

Richard McChesney - 2018 Continental Centurions Race
Looking strong early on.  Franz is the walker behind me in this photo.

I kept going but my laps kept getting slower.  Lap 8 took 30:20 followed by a 31:29!  I forced myself to focus on trying to pick up the speed and was able to average 30:32 for the next five laps.  I was walking significantly slower than my plan, and also slower than I had walked in 2016 (although when I did the analysis post race, I was only 15 seconds per lap slower than in 2016 – see analysis graph at the bottom of this report).

I needed to take drastic action and switched my nutrition from fruit and water to coke and chocolate.  My normal race strategy for a 24 hour event, or any long walk, is to avoid too much sugar in the first half/12 hours (depending on race distance) but if I didn’t do something soon, there was no chance that I would break the NZ records, and I definitely wouldn’t achieve my sub 20 hour 100 mile target – which was probably no longer realistic anyway.

The phycological effect of switching to coke boosted me and I completed the 16th lap in 29:33, my first sub 30 minute lap since lap 7.  On crossing the finish line at the end of each lap you get to see your total elapsed time plus your last lap time on the screen in front of you and seeing a ‘29’ was a boost but short lived unfortunately.  Mentally I was feeling better, but my lap times were not what I wanted/needed.  The next four laps were all in the mid 30 minute range followed by two high 31 minute laps.

I had passed the 50 mile mark in 10 hours and 10 minutes and started thinking that a 100km PB might be a possibility if I could pick the pace up a little.  My 100km PB was 12:42:44 (or so I thought), and in it isn’t very often that I get inside 13 hours during 100 mile/24 hour events – I think I have only done that once before, which was in the 2016 Continental Centurions Race.

After the two high 31 minute laps I calculated that I needed to complete 3 ½ more laps in the low 30 minute range but could only manage mid 30’s – the stats show that I walked 30:33, 30:25 and 30:13.  I reached the 100km mark in 12:43:20 – 36 seconds short of my target.  I told myself that I wasn’t here to walk a 100km PB, and I was about 10 minutes faster than any previous 100 mile/24 hour race at the same point, so kept pushing on – or at least I tried to.  Again my pace dropped and shortly after I ended up with my slowest lap so far, and first 32 minute lap.  As it turned out, I was wrong about my 100km PB.  It was actually 12:44:42 (I had the minutes and seconds around the wrong way), so I did get a bonus 100km PB although I didn’t find that out until the Monday after the race.

I got through to 110km and was still losing time with laps in the 31 minute range.  I was no longer thinking of a sub 20 hour or even sub 20:30 time for 100 miles, and instead found myself doing the calculations to see what I would need to do to just get a PB (20:58).  I was confident that even if I continued to gradually slow down I should get under 20:58, but what about the 24 hour result?  I wanted to ensure that I would cover at least 183km in full laps (to officially break the NZ record) and couldn’t afford to slow too much.

The course is designed so that the 100 mile mark is reached at the end of the 41st lap (40 big laps plus the first slightly smaller lap), and with five laps to go I had 3 hours and 47 minutes up my sleeve (for a sub 20:58).  I calculated that that was over 32 minutes per lap and I was still managing 30’s and 31’s.

It was at this stage that the leader of the 100km race caught me.  He had two laps to go and I had five.  We chatted for a about half a lap and then we came around a corner and saw Frank van der Gulik (Holland) less than 50 meters in front of me.  It was a complete surprise.  At this stage I thought I was in 6th place and I told the guy I was walking with that I needed to pick up the pace as Frank was in 5th and I wanted to pass him strongly.  It didn’t take me long to catch up the 50 meters.  I sat in behind him for 10 or 20 seconds and then picked up the pace again to ensure that Frank didn’t try to stay with me when I passed him.  By the next corner, when I looked behind me, he was 50 meters behind.  Job done!

I kept the pace up though and checked the online results on my phone to confirm my position.  It turned out that I was actually in 4th place, and only 3 minutes behind Adam who was in 3rd.  I increased the pace again, and within a lap I had Adam in my sight.  I did exactly the same as I had done a lap earlier with Frank – I walked up behind Adam and then rested for 10 or 20 seconds before putting in another surge to go past Adam as fast as I could.  Again, I looked behind at the next corner and saw that Adam was already over 50 meters behind.

I completed that lap, the 4th to last before the 100 mile mark, in 29:03 – my fastest lap since lap 7.  It just shows how much these events are a case of mind over matter.  Whilst I thought I was going as hard as I could and ‘only’ managing mid-30 minute laps, when I saw Frank and then Adam, I had managed to put in two sub-30 minute laps reasonably easily.

I kept the pace up to ensure that neither Frank nor Adam would catch me.  The guys in 1st and 2nd were 30 and 20 minutes ahead of me so no chance of catching them – at least not before the 100 mile mark which was my primary focus right now.

At the end of the 3rd to last lap I checked the online results again.  The gaps back to Adam and Frank were big enough for me to feel comfortable that I would hold 3rd place, and without really intending to, I let the pace drop again with two high 31 minute laps through to 100 miles which I completed in 20:44:11 – a new PB and NZ record by a little over 14 minutes.  I finished the 100 miler is 3rd place, less than 1 lap behind the winner.

Richard McChesney - 3rd place in 2018 Continental Centurions Race
Finish of 100 mile event

The 100 mile results were:

2018 Continental Centurions Race - 100 miles

The ‘CC’ number is the unique number assigned to a walker when they first complete a 100 mile race (in less than 24 hours) in Holland.  My number, C432, in from 2016.  The numbers in bold are those walkers who qualified for the first time in this year’s race.

Further details about Centurion race-walking can be found here.

This video shows the first five finishers of the 100 mile event:

 

The 24 hour race:

My goal had always been to cover more than 183km in 24 hours to ‘officially’ break the NZ 24 hour record, and it soon became obvious that everyone was ‘dropping out’ at 100 miles.  It was now mid-morning and after yesterday’s overcast conditions, today was going to be hot and sunny.

I wished I could drop out also, and I struggled for the next three laps, my three slowest of the race, but then gave it one last mental push with a 29:35 and 29:58 before cruising through to the finish.  I ended up with an ‘official’ NZ record and PB of 185.129km!  Job done.

24 hour results:

2018 Continental Centurions Race - 24 hours

A big thank you:

Whilst it might sound like the weekend was all about me and the effort I put in to the race, I could not have achieved the result without the amazing support provided by Judith Fisher, wife of fellow competitor Martin.  Judith offered to provide support by handing me my food at the end of each lap.  The Schiedam course is perfect in that respect in that it provides the opportunity to eat every 30 minutes without needing to remember whether you ate last lap or need to eat next lap, and without having to carry food with you.  You simply eat every lap.  So every lap I would tell Judith what I wanted and she would hand it to me at the end of the next lap.  Most laps I got food from Judith and a drink from the official aid station about 20 meters up the path from where she was stationed.  Occasionally, if I wanted more than half a cup of water or coke, she would give me a bottle of water or a can of coke.  I was never left in need, and owe a big ‘thank you’ to Judith.

Some analysis:

In 2016 my fastest lap (excluding the first lap) was 29:28 and I averaged 30:59.  This year my fastest lap was 28:15 and I walked 7 laps faster than my quickest 2016 lap.  My average lap time was 30:40 – only 19 seconds per lap, or 5 seconds per kilometre, faster than 2016.  But 5 seconds per kilometre over 24 hours adds up to almost 15 minutes.

The graph below shows my cumulative average speed (kilometres per hour) as at the end of each lap throughout the race:

Continental Centurions Race 2016 v 2018 analysis

The following graph shows my speed for each individual lap compared to my overall average speed as at the end of each lap.  You can see how erratic my pace was and how I was able to pick the pace up when I focussed mentally on walking technique and pushing the pace.  I’m sure that if I could focus mentally for the whole 24 hours, then a sub-20 hour time would be possible.

2018 lap speed versus overall speed

And this graph shows the cumulative average speed of the top five finishers plus the early leader who dropped out shortly after 100km.  The graph only shows the first 41 laps as all but myself stopped at 100 miles.  The graph shows how far behind I was mid-race.  At 100km I was 18 minutes behind Adam and 21 minutes behind Frank.  Those margins grew to 20 and 25 minutes respectively before I started to pick them up again.  At 110km, Birger (the 100 mile winner) was 51 minutes in front of me.  I was faster than him on 12 of the last 13 laps and reduced his lead by 24 minutes during that time.

Cumulative average speed of the top 5 finishes

Lastly, my rewards for the weekend, three cups: 3rd in the 100 mile race, completing the 100 miles, and winning the 24 hour race.

Continental Centurions Race trophies

My next race:

These last two races have taken a bit more out of me than I expected.  My main race for 2018 is the Privas 6 day race in August and I have decided that has got to be my primary focus between now and August.  My next race will be the UK Last One Standing in June.  The idea of this race is that competitors have to run (or in my case walk) a 4 mile loop every hour, starting on the hour.  If you don’t finish within the hour, you are out.  The winner is “the last one standing”.  I thought this might be a bit of fun and good training, and I’m looking forward to seeing how a walker can compete against runners in an event like this.

After that I had intended to walk from Paris to London in early July, but I have decided to focus on training for Privas instead, and will postpone this walk until next year.

 

 

Richard

French 24 hour race-walking championships 2018

After spending a large proportion of the last seven months fighting off a foot injury I was looking forward to the opportunity to spend 24 hours on my feet in the French 24 hour race-walking championships during the weekend of the 21st/22nd April.  I wasn’t too concerned about distance or placing – after all it was the French national championships so the field would be strong – but given that my longest walk in the last seven months since the 2017 Roubaix 28 hour race was only seven hours (which I had done both two and three weeks earlier) I was keen to see if my foot, my endurance, and my mental strength would hold up for 24 hours.

The adventure part 1:

The race was being held in the grounds of Dijon Université, Dijon, 200 miles south east of Paris.  I travelled there by train the day before the race and this proved to be a bit of an adventure itself.  I caught the Eurostar train from London to Paris and about half way to Paris the train stopped for 30 minutes due to a computer malfunction.  My travel itinerary gave me 66 minutes to travel across Paris from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon to change from the Eurostar to the French SNCF highspeed train from Paris to Dijon and there wasn’t time to spend 30 minutes sitting in the middle of the French countryside waiting for the trains computer problems to be resolved.

As it was, I made it to Gare de Lyon with a couple minutes to spare, but by the time I located the platform that the train was leaving from I was too late.  The train had gone.

The good news was that the train company were able to put me on to the next train which was only 30 minutes later and I arrived in Dijon around 5pm.

The next part of the adventure involved a 30 minute tram ride to the university and then locating someone within the race organisation crew that spoke English.  Maybe I should learn some basic French 🙂 .  In all my previous French races (This was my eighth race in France in four years) other walkers from the UK had also been competing, and I had left any conversations to them.  This time I was the only non-French competitor in the race, which actually proved beneficial because the race director knew I had booked accommodation at the university so whilst she couldn’t speak English she was able to show me (on a map) where to find my accommodation – which was about a 1km walk away in the other corner of the university grounds.  All a part of the adventure, but next time I think I will be tempted to stay in a hotel near the Dijon railway station and catch the tram to the university on the morning of the race.

After checking in to my room I caught the tram back down to Dijon as I wanted to see a little bit of the town and also get something for dinner as well as some food supplies for the race.

Dijon

Working on the basis that if it is good enough for Usain Bolt to eat, then it is good enough for me, I ‘purchased’ 20 chicken McNuggets and a large fries (about 1,700 calories) for dinner.  I say ‘purchased’ because I didn’t actually pay for my dinner.  McDonald’s have large touch screens that enable customers to place their orders without actually speaking to anyone.  All you do is touch the pictures of what you want to eat.  You can select a language when you start your order, which I did, but when it came to the payment stage the language changed back to French and whilst I thought I had selected the option to pay by credit card, the machine didn’t ask me to pay and gave me the docket showing my order.  I assumed that that meant I would pay at the counter when I collected my meal but when my number came up on the screen at the counter I was given my meal and not asked for any payment.  In my defense, I decided that it would be too difficult to explain the situation without being able to speak France so I accepted the generosity extended to me and took my meal.

After dinner I caught the tram back to the university and was asleep before 10pm.  There was no pre-race excitement or nerves and I didn’t have any problems sleeping like I have before some races.  This was probably because I intended to use this race as a 24 hour training walk rather than a race – although I did want to cover at least 100 miles.  And I ended up sleeping for 11 hours!  My best ever sleep the night before a race.

Breakfast consisted of another visit to McDonalds and another order via the touch screen, but this time I had to pay.  On the way back to my room from the tram the previous night I had discovered a McDonalds near the university grounds so decided that would be my best option for breakfast – another 1,000 odd calories.

The race:

I was beginning to learn my way around the local area and worked out that it would be easier to catch the tram from the stop near McDonalds to the stop near the race village (only about 700 meters) than to carry my bag that distance.  After all, I didn’t want to walk any further than I had to before the race started at 1pm.

My food table. I had the front half.

I arrived at the race village at 11am and organised my food supplies on my allotted table within the sports hall that we would walk through at the end of each lap.  The course started with a 1,496 meter lap and then multiple 2,525 meter laps until 23 hours into the race when we would change to a smaller 770 meter lap for the last hour of the race.  At the end of each lap we walked through a sports hall that contained all the timing equipment, the race food table, and the individual athlete’s food tables.  My intention was to eat food provided by the race organisers most of the time, but I had a range of mixed calories for when I wanted something a little different or more than the 1 or two biscuits or couple pieces of fruit that were offered at the main food table.  As it was, this turned out to be a good idea as there wasn’t much food variety on the race table – just oranges cut in to eight pieces, crackers, and bananas cut up into very small pieces.  And also coke, water and orange juice.

After setting up there was one last opportunity for something to eat – six croissants stuffed with ham – another 1,500 calories, give or take.

A few minutes before race start I went to the toilet and found that my urine was a dark colour meaning that I was already dehydrated before the race had even started.  The temperature was already in the mid 20’s and I couldn’t afford to be dehydrated but it was too late now.

We walked the short distance to the start and stood in the shade of a nearby building until the last possible moment.  There were 30 walkers in the 24 hour race and another 15 or so in the 2 x 6 hour race that took place during the first and last six hours of the main event.

At precisely 1pm we were off.  I started off slowly as planned, walking at a speed of 7.5km/hour.  If it wasn’t so hot I would have started a little faster but I decided that I would just take it easy and focus on keeping myself wet and cool by pouring water over my head and drinking small quantities of water at every opportunity.  Many walkers didn’t start conservatively though, and I was lapped by the leader after just three complete laps – I had walked 7.5km in an hour and the leader (who dropped out after less than six hours) had already done 10km.

After an hour I was in 18th place but feeling comfortable, and over the next six hours I slowly moved up the field while continuing to walk a steady 7.5km an hour – 20 minutes per lap give or take.  In the first seven hours my fastest lap took 19 minutes and 44 seconds and my slowest lap was just 53 seconds slower at 20 minutes and 37 seconds.  A consistent pace.  The results screen showed that I was in 8th place at 7 ¼ hours meaning that 10 of the walkers who had started faster than me had either dropped out or were already suffering the effects of the heat.

My initial plan, regardless of the heat, had been to walk easy for the first 7 hours and then pick the pace up going into the night section, but I decided to maintain the pace for a few more hours rather than increasing my effort.

By half-time (the 12 hour mark) I had moved up to 6th place.  My pace had just started to drop in the last three laps (see my pace graph at the bottom of this race report) so I had my first can of coke and chocolate bar, switched from listening to podcasts to high tempo music, and picked up the pace.

I passed through 100km in exactly 13 hours 24 minutes with my 100km lap and the next one being my fastest of the race at 18 minutes 55 seconds each, and I felt great through until 17 hours.  For a long time I appeared to be walking faster than everyone else on the course.  I had moved in to 5th place and thought I had a realistic change of getting into the top three.

And then the wheels fell off!

Looking at the results my lap times started to drift a little after passing 110km in 14 hours 41 minutes.  With an average lap time for the first 110km of 20 minutes 14 seconds, I averaged 21:34 for the next eight laps through to 130km in 17 hours 34 minutes, and then suddenly, 24:14, 25:59, 24:21, 26:36, etc.  For the next five hours I averaged 25:11 per lap, passing 100 miles in 22 hours 39 minutes (my 5th fastest 100 miler and 10th time under 24 hours).

It was at that stage that I noticed (or thought I noticed) that the walker in 6th place was only 14 minutes behind me – at the end of each lap we passed a large screen that showed our current place, distance, and how far we were behind the athlete in front of us.  I thought I was just over a lap ahead of 6th place and therefore had 24+ minutes up my sleeve, but it appeared that this wasn’t the case and I instantly picked up the pace – proving that my bad patch was more mental than physical.  The next two laps took 21:12 and 20:36 respectively – over 4 minutes faster than my average lap speed of the previous few hours!

On completing my 66th lap I was 23 hours and 18 minutes into the race and I was diverted on to the smaller 770 meter lap for the last 42 minutes of the race.  I managed to maintain my new-found speed and completed the 24 hour event with an overall distance of 170.714km for 5th place.

Some thoughts about the race:

  • I was probably slightly dehydrated starting the race and drank a small amount of water once or twice per lap throughout the first 7 or 8 hours and also dipped my cap in cold water once per lap. Too keep cool I also kept by arms wet by pouring cold water down each arm once per lap.  I didn’t lose any time doing this.  There were two water stations on each lap and three places where there were containers of water available for keeping wet.  The organisers did a great job in enabling the athletes to keep cool.
  • I was careful not to drink too much water though.  Drinking too much water can dilute the electrolytes in your body and can cause more problems that dehydration.
  • I had six toilet stops which indicates I was drinking enough, but my urine remained a dark colour throughout the race and for a few days afterwards.
  • I need to learn how to say ‘sorry’ in French. I tripped over the feet of one of the volunteers and at least twice I accidentally bumped into another competitor.  Hopefully they all know what ‘sorry’ means in English.
  • Travelling to and from races in another country can be a bit of an adventure. As well as the adventure getting to Dijon, I found myself having to run through Gare du Nord to get from the Metro to the Eurostar on my way home after having to spend 22 minutes waiting for the Metro at Gare de Lyon on a quiet Sunday night on the way home.  Fortunately I made it to the Eurostar departures with a few minutes to spare.
  • I recovered from the race reasonably quickly – both physically and mentally – but my sleep pattern was completely screwed up this time. This could be because I travelled for nine hours to get home immediately after the race when I would usually get a nights sleep before travelling after a race in France.
  • I’m glad I did the race. Seven months is a long time between races, especially when struggling with injury.
  • 170.7km in 24 hours in slightly over 12km slower than my best, but given the heat and my lack of fitness, I’m happy with the result and think I can improve on that next time.

Some photos:

The results screen at the end of each lap.

I took the above photo at 18 hours.  It shows that I was in 5th place and had completed 132.8km and was 13 minutes and 3 seconds behind 4th place.  It is only now, when I look at the photo, that I see that the six hour walkers are also listed on the screen.  I suspect that what I saw at the 100 mile mark was that the 6th place six hour walker, and not the 6th place 24 hour walker, was 14 minutes behind the 5th place 6 hour walker (not me), but seeing this was enough to jolt me back to life and I picked the pace up again, walking the next two laps in 21:12 and 20:36.  The fact that I was able to pick up the pace so easily also shows that my 4 hour bad patch was all mental and not physical.

My average speed per lap and cumulatively

It’s not hard to guess which photo was taken during my bad patch (17 to 21 hours), and which photo was taken with less than one hour to go in the race.
If I learnt anything from this race, it is that attitude is everything!

New plans for 2018

Today is the 1st of April and after struggling with injury for the last six months, I’m back training again and looking forward to a huge summer.  After missing the Belfast to Dublin Ultra this weekend, I’ve spent this afternoon making new plans for 2018.

My main focus of 2018 is still the Privas 6 day race in August, but I’ve changed some of my plans for the rest of the year.  I won’t be doing the EMU 6 day race in Hungary in May as I can’t get fit enough over the next 4 weeks to do that race justice, and it is too expensive to use as a ‘training race’.  The EMU was going to be a major part of my preparations for Privas though, so rather than doing EMU, I will bring forward my Paris to London fundraising walk for Limbless Association forward and do that in July rather than October.

I’m also going to do two 24 hour races over the next two months as well as Last One Standing UK in June.  So my plans for 2018 now look like this:

  • 21/22 April – French national 24 hour championship race in Dijon. This will be a training race with the aim of covering 100 miles in 24 hours at a steady pace.  I just want to spend 24 hours on my feet as I haven’t walked 24 hours since Roubaix in September last year.
  • 19/20 May – Continental Centurions Race in Schiedam, Holland. This is on a fast, almost dead flat 4km circuit in the trees within Prinses Beatrixpark in Schiedam near Rotterdam.  I set my current 100 mile and 24 hour PB’s at Schiedam in 2016 and this will be my first serious attempt at racing a 24 hour race since then.
  • 9/10 June – Last One Standing UK race as planned. I’m really looking forward to this race. The idea is that competitors have to run (or in my case walk) a 4 mile loop every hour, starting on the hour.  If you don’t finish within the hour, you are out.  The winner is “the last one standing”.  I thought this might be a bit of fun and good training, and I think that I can perform well against the runners in this event.
  • 16 June – 2nd annual P&H Scouts walkathon
    I’m not competing but am organising a walkathon for the local scout group. Last year they raised £2,250.  This year we are hoping to exceed that.
  • 1 to 4 July (Dates to be confirmed) – Paris to London
    I’m really looking forward to this and will use this as my final preparation for Privas which is 6 weeks later.
    I’ve mapped out a course which is roughly 400km in total (or at least it will be when I add ‘getting lost’ miles to the planned route) with 270km in France, a short ferry ride form Calais to Dover, and then another 126km through to London.
    I have had a look at the routes that other people have run or cycled between these two cities.  They usually go from London to Paris and they either start at Marble Arch and finish at Arc de Triomphe, or they start at Tower Bridge and finish at the Eifel Tower.
    I’ve decided that I will start at Eifel Tower and then go past the Arc de Triomphe on the way out of Paris, and will cross Tower Bridge on my way in to London before finishing at Marble Arch.  I’ve chosen to go from Paris to London rather than vice versa as I would prefer to be on roads that I am more familiar with during the final day (and a bit).
    I’m going to take 4 days to cover the distance at 100km per day which is a little less than the distance I will aim to cover during the first four days at Privas, but will be great training for the race.
  • 19-25 August 2018 – 6 jours de France
    My third attempt to break the NZ 6 day record after going close in 2016 and failing miserably in 2017. My goal is still to exceed 700km during the six days.
  • Mid-September – Roubaix 28 hour race (again)
    I’ve done this three times with two 200+ kilometer results (2015 and 2017) and will probably finish my year this race again.

2018 race plan map

That’s six walks of 100 miles or more. The same as last year.  I can’t wait to get started 🙂